Hardware wallets compared and reviewed
Last updated: 10.4.18
By now you probably know that the most secure way you can store your Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies is through the use of hardware wallets.
Hardware wallets use a form of 2 factor authentication (also known as 2FA). This mean that in order to access your funds you’ll need to prove your identity through something you have (the physical wallet) and something you know (the PIN code for the wallet). If you’re serious about Bitcoin and cryptocurrency security in general, you need to get a hardware wallet, I personally have 3 different ones.
5 different hardware wallets: BitLox, KeepKey, TREZOR One, Ledger Nano S, CoolWallet
Today I want to take the opportunity and list who I think are the best Bitcoin hardware wallets on the market. Keep in mind that the top 3 Bitcoin hardware wallets I will present are all great products. The difference between 1st, 2nd and 3rd place is somewhat minor as you’ll see soon enough.
For a full review of each of the wallets keep reading this post. Here’s what we’ll go over:
- Ledger Nano S
- TREZOR one
- TREZOR T
- Archos Safe-T Mini
- Additional hardware wallets
- Conclusion – Who is the winner?
Want to know more about Cryptocurrency wallets? Watch our video guide
Pros: Easy to use, great company reputation, wide support of coins
Cons: None yet
Overall rating: 5 stars
I’ve reviewed the Ledger Nano S not long ago and was absolutely impressed. The company, that used to be the second runner up in the hardware wallet race seemed to have matched it’s main opponent TREZOR.
The Nano S has a sleek design, intuitive user interface and a wide support of altcoins (over 30 in total including Ethereum, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Zcash, Dash, Ripple and most ERC-20 tokens). At the moment the Nano S sells for $99 making it an affordable hardware wallet although somewhat more expensive than the competition.
You can access you ledger wallet through Ledger Live – a free desktop application that allows you to control all of your ledger devices, send and receive cryptocurrencies and check your balance whenever you want.
The company (LedgerWallet) has been around long enough to gain a respectful reputation and in all honesty I couldn’t find anything bad to say about their product. Today I use the Ledger Nano S as one of my personal wallets.Visit Ledger Read our review
Pros: A market veteran, great company reputation, low price tag
Cons: Frequently resets when upgrading, Ripple not supported
Overall rating: 4.5 stars
Aside from using the Ledger Nano S I also use a TREZOR for storing cryptocurrencies. The “TREZOR one” (formerly known just as “TREZOR”) is the oldest hardware wallet on the market and probably the most reputable one as well.
The TREZOR one has a nice, simple design, a very easy to understand user interface, and it supports Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, Zcash, Dash, Ethereum, Ethereum classic, Litecoin and NEM. The only coin which is missing and has gain massive public attention is Ripple (XRP).
The price on the TREZOR one is currently $80 making it one of the cheapest hardware wallet on the market. This is a great wallet and you can also read my full review of it here.
The main advantage TREZOR has over its competitors is the company reputation. One of the company’s founders is Marek “Slush” Palatinus, who also created the first mining pool for Bitcoin (founded in 2010).
On the downside, there is one annoying thing about TREZOR – When you upgrade the wallets firmware it frequently deletes the whole wallet. If you’re just starting out with crypto this can definitely freak you out. As long as you have your backup phrase around you can just restore the wallet, but this is definitely something to be aware of.Visit TREZOR Read our review
Pros: Beautifully designed, in-wallet exchange via Shapeshift
Cons: High price tag
Overall rating: 4 stars
Coming in 3rd place we have Keepkey, a Bitcoin hardware wallet with a beautiful though somewhat large design. Keepkey has similar features to TREZOR one and the Ledger Nano S, however for several reasons I find it a bit less attractive than the previous two.
For starters, the wallet is too big for carrying in your pocket conveniently. The size of the Keepkey wallet is almost twice of the TREZOR one or Ledger Nano S.
Additional things that make me hesitate regarding buying the product are:
- I have written to their support several times but haven’t gotten a response yet.
- Some bad reviews on Amazon regarding the product and the company’s support.
On the bright side, Keepkey supports a wide variety of altcoins including Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Namecoin, Testnet, Ethereum, and Dash. The wallet also incorporates an in-wallet exchange that allows you to trade one crypto for another without using an external exchange.
Keepkey currently sells for $129 and is the most expensive option of all top 3 wallets.Buy Bitcoins on BitBay Read our review
Pros: Built in touch screen, great company reputation
Cons: High price tag
Overall rating: 4 stars
The TREZOR T is basically a TREZOR One wallet that has a large touch screen. Both wallets offer the same features, but the touch screen does make a difference. I’ll explain.
When you restore your hardware wallet or even set it up for the first time, you are often requested to enter your seed phrase. If you do not have a suitable interface on your hardware wallet (i.e. a touch screen), you will need to type in your seed phrase on your computer.
If your computer is infected with malware this makes your seed phrase vulnerable to key logging or other forms of hacking. Having said that, even if someone managed to get the words to your seed phrase the still won’t know what order to put them in since that is not displayed on your computer (it’s displayed on the hardware wallet).
The Trezor T eliminates this threat completely since all interaction is done on the hardware wallet’s touch screen so you don’t need to be afraid of malware (these devices are malware free by design).
To sum it up, I’m not sure that the touchscreen functionality and some other minor add ons are worth almost twice the price of a TREZOR One, so at the moment I’m holding on to my TREZOR One.
The TREZOR T model costs 149 Euros ($170) when VAT is excluded.Visit TREZOR Read our review
Pros: Extremely affordable, easy setup
Cons: Basic coin support, new player in the field of cryptocurrency
Overall rating: 3.5 stars
Archos is a French multinational electronics company that was established in 1988 by Henri Crohas. Archos manufactures tablets, smartphones, portable media players and portable data storage devices. It recently got into the field of hardware wallets and has now introduced the Safe-T mini hardware wallet.
The wallet is your basic version of a hardware wallet. It acts as a basic 2FA device that also holds your private key but that’s about it. The Safe-T mini’s interface is extremely limited and in order to send / receive coins you will need to use additional software. For example, to send / receive Bitcoin you will need to use Electrum.
Priced at around $50, the Safe-T mini acts as an affordable alternative to the more expensive hardware wallets. However, taking into account that the company is relatively new to the cryptocurrency space, I suggest putting an additional $30 and going with the battle tested TREZOR One.Visit Archos Review coming soon
Throughout the last 2 years I’ve also explored some additional hardware wallets that didn’t make the top 5 list so I’d like to mention them here.
Bitfi is a hardware wallet that is owned by John Mcafee, a controversial figure in the cryptocurrency space. The wallet originally claimed to be “unhackable”, however after it was torn a apart by security researchers and several security flaws where exposed it removed that claim.
CoolWallet is a credit card looking hardware wallet that you can carry around in your pocket. My review of Coolwallet was positive, however the wallet hasn’t gained enough market share in order for me to consider it a stable product. It’s the only hardware wallet around that supplies a dedicated app as a mobile interface.
BitLox is another hardware wallet I reviewed, however it was in early stages and I couldn’t get it to work properly. I haven’t taken another look at the product since then (this was back in the beginning of 2016) and the product may have become more user friendly.
It doesn’t get any simpler than this headline. Yes, hardware wallets cost money and no one likes spending money on things they can get for free. But the amount of security you get by using a hardware wallet is much more valuable than the $50-$100 you’ll pay for purchasing the actual device.
In my opinion all of the options I reviewed in this post are a good choice but my personal favorites are the TREZOR One and the Ledger Nano S. Also, make sure to always buy the wallet directly from the company or from an authorized resellers. There have been many cases of fraud reported by people who bought hardware wallets on eBay and sometimes Amazon.